On February 16, 2023, the US law enforcement agencies unveiled a “disruptive technology strike force.” The strike force’s main job will be to protect both confidential and non-confidential data and technology so it may not be obtained by adversaries during intelligence gathering. This move was seen as a US response to the sighting of the alleged high-altitude “surveillance balloon” over US airspace, declared as “China’s attempt to collect intelligence”. These episodes have once again highlighted both the offensive and defensive significance of disruptive technologies. Over the past few years, states across the globe have strived to develop and acquire such technologies and incorporate them into their air power capabilities to bolster their national security. Pakistan, as per global trends, is cognisant of the need for such technologies in its arsenal and aims to indigenise advanced technologies to keep up with the world. It is the impact of the technology that makes it disruptive. If a technology’s impact on warfare and strategy is huge, then it is considered disruptive. Moreover, disruptive technology has to be new because – after a certain period – technological evolution will always yield counter-technologies to neutralise its impact. Present-day disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cyberspace, big data, quantum computing, hypersonic weapon systems, and autonomous systems possess great potential to provide asymmetrical advantages at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels by increasing efficiency, improving capabilities, and in some cases, reducing costs – subsequently making their acquisition desirable for both big and small air forces. The Relevance of Disruptive Technology in Air PowerStates across the globe have strived to develop and acquire technologies and incorporate them into their air power capabilities to bolster their national security. These technologies have a substantial role in evolving and revolutionising the characteristics of speed, range, and elevation in air power. For instance, modern-day Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) can go further afield during a search and rescue mission or strike missions as their power delivery systems make long ranges possible without the need to refuel. Azerbaijan and Armenia’s extensive use of UCAVs and loitering munitions during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was a glimpse into the increasing relevance of these lethal autonomous weapons in modern warfare. Harop, a kamikaze (self-destructing) explosive-laden drone, became the focus of the international media during the conflict when Azerbaijan used it extensively to divebomb and destroy Armenian air defence systems. These munitions rely on “man-in-the-loop” guidance, and anti-radiation sensors, which give an edge at the tactical level as they locate, track, and attack targets at larger scales, thereby contributing to fewer trips, cost efficiencies, increased information, and reduced casualties on the battlefield. The integration of AI will make such UCAVs much more autonomous and intelligent without dependency on man-in-the-loop. Integration of AI in drone swarms will allow even more capable and efficient attacks than conventional human-controlled drones by accelerating the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act) Loop. This will enable them to take out an air defence system just by bombarding it with enough mass to overwhelm it – all without human operators. Apart from its use in munitions, AI implementations will increase the overall speed and accuracy of standardised military operations. AI’s potential is already being acknowledged in the OSINT (Open-Source Intelligence) field as it has become an important tool in data gathering and intelligence in the military. OSINT’s main source of data gathering is the internet, and AI will help locate, filter, and analyse vast amounts of information from multiple layered data streams in a matter of milliseconds. AI aids in improving intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance and making it easier to target adversary forces by utilising accumulated data. However, if comprised, it can be utilised in non-kinetic assaults by adversary forces through cyberspace. For instance, in the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia targeted the American satellite communication company which provided data to the Ukrainian military on the ground and in the air, causing major disruptions in the operations. The digital age has made command and control systems prone to cyber intrusions. An interesting fact about cyber-attacks is that the origins of such attacks are often ambiguous and hence unclaimed, making them a desirable option. The popularity and desirability of these disruptive technologies have serious implications for changing the power differential between forces of differing magnitudes. Today a technologically advanced but militarily smaller power can create an impact through major disruptions in a conflict using these technologies. The countries which lag in this race are prone to bear the consequences, therefore this threat has catalysed their speedy acquisition. The developments in disruptive technologies will not be contained, and are bound to diffuse across civilian and military fields. Given this global and regional strategic environment, Pakistan is also committed to developing these modern and advanced technologies to maintain the effectiveness of its aerial defences. So far, under the Pakistan Air Force’s flagship National Aerospace Science and Technology Park (NASTP) initiative, various aerospace, AI, cyber, quantum computing, and IT clusters are being set up in place in major cities of the country. The centres will provide a solid foundation for research, innovation, and development in emerging and disruptive technologies within Pakistan, enabling it to keep up with the new global realities. The autheor is a researcher at the Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS). She can be reached at email@example.com.